How baptism is related to your call
July 30, 2018 / By The Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Director of Connectional Ministries and Assistant to the Bishop
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of the Advocate, which focused on individuals and churches throughout the UNY Conference that are boldly living their call.
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
A few years ago, I took violin lessons with my daughter Tasha. It was a blessing to share this experience with her. It was also terrifying! A 40-something just doesn’t learn as quickly as a 14-year old. As part of our training, Tasha and I, along with the other beginning violinists, had to perform on stage at Ithaca College’s Ford Hall. I knew that some of the finest violinists in the world had played on that stage. And there I was, standing under the stage lights clutching my rented violin, praying I’d not forget how to finger the notes for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” I really wanted to be sitting in the audience. But if I wanted to learn violin, I had to be bold and play my part.
I think the same attitude is required of those of us who are baptized. Every baptized Christian – no matter what their age or talent level – is expected to perform, to “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness” and “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” as it says in our service of baptism. Nobody gets to sit in the audience.
I remember one of my seminary professors reminding a classroom of us would-be clergy that baptism, not ordination, made us Christ’s ministers. Ordination would refine our calling, but baptism alone defined it. The partnership of laity and clergy in ministry is one of the essential marks of being a United Methodist. We are in this together.
Baptism invites and equips us to be bold in living out our calling. It links us to Christ, to one another and to a mission of love and service to our church, neighborhood and world. So be bold. Play your part. Only you can.